Friday, December 27, 2013

Ancient Canadian Anglican Church To Be Used By Louisiana Southern Baptist

This is a pretty neat story with a lot of photos. Kinda of sad for people of this part of Nova Scotia  , but it is great history is being preserved.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Pope Francis 's 2013 Christmas Urbi et Orbi Blessing and Message

The Urbi et Orbi ("to the City [of Rome] and to the World") dis papal address and Apostolic Blessing given to the City of Rome and the World. We have one every Christmas day which is a big event world wide and in Rome to come out and listen too.

Rocco Palmo has the text here at "Bambino, Bring Peace" – In Francis' Christmas Prayer, A Call To Be "Moved". 

Rocco also mentioned as a small interesting matter the prior practice of doing the Urbi et Prbi in mnay languages by the Pope appears to be now a things of the past at least under this Pope.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Duck Dynasty And Protestants Small " c " Catholic Problem

I thought The Atlantic had a rather perceptive article on the whole Duck Dynasty thing . See The Genuine Conflict Being Ignored in the Duck Dynasty Debate . He says in part :

Missing in the controversy over A;E’s handling of its golden goose—or duck, rather—is the fact that the real conflict here is not between Robertson and A&E; it is between gay activists and a solid majority of Christians who believe homosexual acts are wrong. As indicated above, Robertson’s views are hardly anomalous. Christians may disagree on the details, but the Bible strongly condemns homosexuality in both the Old and New Testaments; the marriage model of one man and one woman is first given by God in Genesis 2 and reiterated by Jesus in Matthew 19; and in Romans 1 the Apostle Paul denounces homosexuality as a hallmark of a degenerate culture. 

The point here isn’t that you have to believe any of this, but many Christians do believe it and feel morally bound to believe it. Instead of acknowledging this tension, however, A&E, GLAAD, and their supporters have responded with disingenuous expressions of shock and horror. And it matters that it's disingenuous, because if they actually acknowledged that there is a genuine conflict between orthodox Christianity and homosexual sex (along with several forms of heterosexual sex) they would have to confront head-on the fact that calling for a boycott or pressuring for Robertson's suspension tells orthodox Christians that their religion is no longer acceptable, and that’s not a very politically correct thing to do. Right now, they are trying to weasel out of it by characterizing Robertson as a backwoods bigot who takes his moral cues from Deliverance rather than from a straightforward reading of the Bible and the historic teachings of the Christian religion.

At the end of his article he states :

 We stand at a crossroads. The country must decide. Is the endgame here to be that orthodox Christians will henceforth have no voice within their own culture? If so, does this mean we have become a nation of bullies, forcing conformity while calling it tolerance?


I think he is right about how many of us are kidding ourselves. We can argue over the details and tone of what the Duck guy said but that seems to be missing the larger point. I have some huge doubts that if he had dropped the word bestiality out of his remarks everything would have been roses.

However this episode brings up again a subject  I have observed over and over. When Americans  Christians discuss these issues that have a lot to do with core doctrines they do it with a great bit of American Privilege. There is no sense of consulting the worldwide Body of Christ the Church. That is to be more specific the small " c " Catholic all universal Church that many that recite  every sunday in the Apostles creed.

Now as Catholics outside the Orthodox we don't technically call these " Churches " but there is a Protestant and indeed Evangelical concept of the small " c " Church . It extends from West Monroe Louisiana to a hidden house Church in China..

So what happens when the conflict of wanting to be accepted in American society and the being in communion with a the world wide Church happens.

In many way this is playing out big time with recent  in the United Methodist Church. People forget that the United Methodist Church is a substantial WORLD WIDE formal body. There has been considerable push back against the American Mother Church by its members in African and Asia. They on certain matters that folks here call the " the culture war " really don't care if American Christians don't feel comfortable . They care about what they see as essential truths.

Yet in the news coverage about the Methodist minister that got defrocked over his doing  gay son's wedding they are no where to be seen in the news stories. It is all viewed as very American story. Again " American privilege " strikes again.

We can see this in other Protestant bodies where the real sin of " schism " seems to be talked about more and more.

SO what happens when American Christians have to make a choice between worldwide communion , and having a voice in American culture. Will Schism be seen as no big deal ?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Does A&E Have Any First Amendment Values Responsibilty

Well Duck Dynasty is the news !

Lets talk about the first amendment and the head of the Duck CLAN

There was a post at Pastor Alana Rudick blog called Duck Dynasty, free speech, and persecution . I largely agree with him that A & E is not an Government actor and when people tsay the Duck Commander's first amendment rights are violated they are very legally incorrect from what we no so far.

 I do think there have been SOME that have are confused on that point.

However I think a good many MORE are doing what is actually quite commonplace . That is using the term first amendment to also represent the important role that certain guardians of this most important fight have .
That includes newspapers, private universities , the art world , and indeed the entertainment industry. None of these are Government actors but they are important stewards of the First Amendment. They have very much benefited from it that is for sure and there used to be at least some recognition that had a responsibility in this matter.

Now I am not sure where A&;E fits on this spectrum. I have not reviewed A&;E programs in a while to get a good sense how dedicated they are to the art world and the entertainment issues.

However I do think that with the history of censorship of arts and actors since time immemorial the issue is worthy of discussion among their heads. .

On the other hand a good bit of this depends on how A&E presents and sells itself.   We see this in the context of private universities. I would argue Vanderbilt has more first amendment value  responsibilities than say Liberty University. That is because place like Vandy sell themselves more as place where a wide range of political , religious , and social thought are more acceptable.

 So I get that A&E is not PBS . I understand  its a private actor like the New Orleans Picayune  and we expect more of one than the other .

However  where they fall on the spectrum of  " guardians " is worth discussing .

Sunday, December 8, 2013

2013 Catholic Post of the Year Goes To Greg Hillis

It is popular to say how wonderful it is that young people are so open and tolerant and etc. I usually find the opposite to be the case.

It seems older people that have been around the block a few times , been knocked down , endured some heartache , have  some world experience outside their comfort zone , and have sinned themselves are far more tolerant. Tolerance does not mean accepting anything under the sun but I find  older folks often extend mercy more than younger even when they disagree.

To get the point when you are younger it seems YOU GOT IT ALL FIGURED OUT which also means you view those that don't agree with you as morons. . That is one reason why I sort of shake my head when people say young folks are the prophetic voice of the Church. Well maybe so but often not.

At least that was the case for me. I was a pretty annoying young Catholic that thought communion in the hand was sketchy , the priest should make everyone kneel for communion , and altar girls was the most horrible thing under the sun. Now I still hold those positions to a certain degree but I learned some good people disagree and I don't need to make World War III over these issues. Needless to say there were more " liberal " young folks that I knew that held the opposite positions and never realized how truly intolerant they were to folks that disagreed. Again a mirror image of me at a certain age.

I suspect older people ( and by this I think approaching 40 is when it might happen ) just want some PEACE , and to be honest the Church is the last place where we want another battle. We can have that at home or in the workplace .

Which brings us to what I thought was the most excellent Catholic post of 2013  in the very crowded Catholic blogsphere on how yes we are a BIG CHURCH that has many often conflicting views. It s written from a personal look myself in the mirror viewpoint. He is a  educated man that  had Pope Francis shock his world. Which this Pope is good at doing.

So  Greg Hillis and his post What "It is everybody's church!" Teaches Me: A Confession get in my mind the best 2013 Catholic post of 2013.

In the end there is room in our Faith for the Archdiocese of the Military and lets say Pax Chirsti

There is room for the Catholics at the Action Inst and let say Catholic worker.

There is room for those that like the " regular Mass " , the Latin Mass , and yes ( gulp ) I will say it Lifeteen Masses .

The Bishops and Popes , which are so vogue to bash , seem to get this and embrace the contributions of all of these. That might be because they realize they are not of the Church of whats happening now but   get the whole concept of the democracy of the dead and how by their vows they enter the living history of the Church that goes back to the apostles . Our history show therefore a dynamic and in the trenches  way of Faith that is while Orthodox is not cookie cutter.

Again I am not saying anything goes. I am not going to be singing CALL TO ACTION praises anytime soon. But Catholicism allows a huge range of theological , political , social ,  economic thought.

Let us on both on  the " right " and "left"  be very wary of saying you are not welcomed to the Eucharistic sacrifice unless it is a very core belief..

There are indeed some issue that Catholicism must not compromise as the Bride of Christ. But again there are many issues where we have no business denying the Eucharistic table of our Lord too because of disagreement.

And for that reason Greg Hillis get Catholic post of the year for reminding of us that.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

What Is Frightning About ACLU Lawsuit Against The Catholic Bishops

I have to say I am tad underwhelmed over some significant analysis ( legal and otherwise ) on the Michigan ACLU lawsuit against the United States Catholic Bishop's Conference.

One aspect of this I would like covered is how much internal discussion . disagreement with the ACLU itself is happening over the actions of it's Michigan chapter. HOPEFULLY THERE IS SOME. If not it is a sign that perhaps the ACLU has decided one issue overrides all other RIGHTS.

Rick Plasterer over at Juicy Ecumenism has the facts on the lawsuit and it's implications at The ACLU Bids to Make a Beginning of the End of Religious Health Care .

He says in part :

What makes the case especially scary (and telling), is the clear attempt to tie religious doctrine to legal harm. Rather than suing the hospital, the ACLU is suing the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for their directives to Catholic health providers that prescribe medical care according to religious principles. Once the strategic bridgehead is established that Catholic moral teaching is harming good medical care and the government may restrict it, ever more restrictions will be introduced on this and all the other issues of the “culture war” over sex and religion. Religious principles will then be increasingly understood to cause harm in medical care, advancing the claim that they cause harm in the public world of business and the professions, and must be excluded from the actions of anyone serving the public. Beyond this, to advocate or counsel religious actions deemed harmful to the state’s understanding of the good life also become suspect. Currently, the mayor-elect of New York, Bill de Blasio, proposes to shut down the city’s crisis pregnancy centers, which offer alternatives to abortion, while in Germany, books advocating spanking are banned .

Bear in mind the Bishop's Conference does not own any of these hospitals. It is just the fact that Bishop's speak out and say to be Catholic one must do X if one's wants to have that label is enough !

Anyone at the ACLU concerned about the speech and religious freedom issues or is restrict rights by tort litigation all A OK !

Colorado Gay Wedding Cakes - The Failure of Classical Political Liberalism ?

Yesterday a court said a baker must make a gay wedding cake.

I am not going to comment on the Judge's opinion yet . If or if not the Judge was legally correct because of certain laws that are on the books is not the point of this post.

The question is again is liberalism going out of style in the good ole USA. When I am talking liberalism I am not talking  Nancy Pelosi kinda of liberalism but the kind which is  at the heart of the enduring American constitutional order.

Law Prof Dane Crane hit this issue not long ago at Gay Wedding Cakes and Liberalism . After describing what liberalism was and how all factions in these debates are ignoring it he said :

Where are the liberals?  Where are the people willing to say: “As much as possible, let’s not decide these questions in the arena of the state.  Let’s let them play out in families, churches, religious communities, social networks, friendships, businesses, and private associations.  Let’s resist the impulse to make these kinds of divisive moral and religious questions political questions.  Let’s not fight another Thirty Years’ War.”

Let me try to preempt some likely objections with two concluding observations.

First, a liberal disposition cannot be confined to circumstances where one disapproves of someone else’s conduct but it causes no harm to others—because that’s an empty set.  It’s child’s play for lawyers, philosophers, and economists  to demonstrate that almost anything one person does affects other people.  When the baker refuses to make the wedding cake, it imposes real distress, humiliation, and inconvenience on the person requesting the cake.  Conversely, having to make the cake would impose real offense and moral indignity on the baker.  Liberalism doesn’t depend on a view that one of the parties really isn’t hurt, any more than free speech depends on a view that words can never be hurtful.  Liberalism is a disposition that says “the state must let pass these sorts of harm—they do not rise to the level of force and fraud where state intervention is justified.”

Second, to espouse liberalism isn’t to pretend that the state never has to make political judgments on issues of sexual orientation.  Since the state runs the military, it must decide whether gay people can serve in the armed forces.  Since the state regulates adoptions, it must decide whether gay people can adopt.  And there are of course other examples.  But the fact that it is sometimes unavoidable for the state to wade into these thorny issues does not justify the state wading in when it doesn’t have to.  The great project of liberalism is to strive continually for resolutions that don’t involve the state deciding divisive issues of  meaning and morality that require choosing between contending world views.  This isn’t always possible, but it’s possible much more of the time than it happens.

Calling all liberals . . .

Keep the X In XMAS ! - The War On XMAS

I never quite got why the Keep Christ in Christmas folks ( in which I have a lot sympathy for ) seem to attack XMAS . From a early age I knew the X was Greek for Christ which I found rather neat at the time. Was this really hidden knowledge to everyone ?

Over at First Things Matthew Schmitz has an excellent piece on the history of the " X " . See In Praise of “Xmas” . The X in many ways links us to the Church of all ages living and dead. Which I think is pretty darn Catholic .

Why American Catholic Writing Has Gone To Hell

Rod Dreher takes a good look at a First Things piece by the poet Dana Gioia that talks about the horrid state of Catholic writing in America. This topic is nothing new on how we have gone from Flannery O’Connor to the sad state of today. However it lays out the landscape in a the most vivid way and is worth the read.

See The Rise & Fall Of Catholic Writing

On a depressing note Rod Dreher also notes that a South Louisiana Catholic High School was perhaps the first to ban Flannery O'Connor at the directive of a BISHOP because parents found her offensive !

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Good LA Times Guest Op Ed -Hobby Lobby & The American Value of Religious Accommodations

Law Prof Rick Garnett has an excellent Op - Ed in the LA Times today on the VALUE and TRADITION of Accommodation of religion on his column about the HHS Mandate Cases .

He also mentions an issue I keep making :

..And the question should not be whether legal protections for religious liberty stop at the sanctuary door or evaporate when a person is trying to make a living or a business is aiming to make a profit. At a time when we talk a lot about corporate responsibility and worry about the feeble influence of ethics and values on Wall Street decision-making, it would be strange if the law were to welcome sermonizing from Starbucks on the government shutdown but tell the Greens and Hobby Lobby to focus strictly on the bottom line....

This is a question that no so far that I think certain Christians and even whole Faith Communities that are very much supporting the Government in this case shy away from.

He does not mention it but one really has to wonder if accommodation does not become a value we hold dearly what does that mean for EMPLOYEES in the future. I am not sure this can be contained just to employers . 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Megan McArdle Questions the True Motivations of the Contraception Mandate

Good article at the the Atlantic. After going through if a HSS Contraception is really that necessary in the big scheme of things of health care she say :

...... The administration didn’t force employers with a religious objection to offer contraception because it made financial or medical sense; they did it because it had great symbolic value to Barack Obama’s political base. And much of that symbolic value seems to actually come from the willingness to coerce people who object to buy the stuff. You can imagine that in an intra-left debate over what mandatory services should be covered, some of the people now professing outrage at Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. (one of the parties involved) would see the logic of ditching birth control if it lowered premiums by $15 a month and thereby increased access. But, in fact, if you want to make the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act viable for the long term, you’re going to need the support of folks like Hobby Lobby as much as you need low premiums.

 There are many religious people in America, and if you want to keep stirring up active opposition to the law, one good way is to suggest that this law forces them to pay for something they are convinced is morally wrong. (Hobby Lobby’s objection is not to contraception in general, but specifically to products that could prevent a fertilized egg from implanting.) 

If you want to still be fighting Obamacare in the trenches 40 years from now, the best way I can think of is appending it to the argument over abortion. I understand that you may think Hobby Lobby’s position is ridiculous, or that contraception is a fundamental human right, but here’s the problem: Hobby Lobby’s owners, and millions of other Americans, hold the opposite opinion at least as strongly. In a pluralistic society, they have the right to fight you on it every step of the way. 

To state the obvious, Obamacare is probably not going to survive many more such battles. If the administration loses in the Supreme Court, that will be good news for religious liberty, but also good news for Obamacare. Right now, the administration needs to pick its battles carefully. This should not be a hill they’re willing to let the law die on.

I think she is largely right and she is far from alone in the view about  motivations. It does seem people enjoy their moral superiority when they start out their sentences " I can believe in the 21  St Century we are arguing over birth control " .

It needs to be recalled that this threat was barely on anyone's radar at the time they were just tryuing to get the votes to pass the Affordable Care Act. Everyone was focused on abortion , and the President had seem to promises to such people as Cardinal Dolan there was nothing to worry about on this front.

I think Megan McArdle is right on the other point. What kind of game plan is this if you support the Affordable Care Act ? Further if think a more active Federal Government is a good thing then why are you supporting a major war against common sense religious accommodations that basically is not a huge to burden to the law at all ?